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HOW TO START A FOOD BLOG – THE BEGINNERS GUIDE
Have you ever wanted to start a food blog? In this step by step guide, we will guide you through all the necessary steps to get your blog up and running.
So, let’s get started!
1.) Pick the right niche for your food blog
The most important key to being a successful food blogger is picking the niche for your food blog. What is a niche? Niche is simply the subject you’ll focus on with your blog.
In this section, we’ll show you how to choose the right niche for your new blog.
2.) Choose a name for your food blog
Choosing a food blog name is an important step when it comes to starting a brand new blog. Your food blog name will become your brand, so it should sound catchy, memorable, and somewhat descriptive of the niche you picked for the blog. We will give you some examples and also point you to several resources to get your creativity going.
3.) Buy a matching domain name
Also, you’ll need to buy a matching domain name. A domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website (e. g. ours is rainbowinmykitchen.com).
4.) Create a logo
A well-branded and memorable logo is super important. It will help you stand out from the crowd.
We will direct you to several resources where you can purchase ready-made logos and adjust them, create them yourself with some affordable online tools, or hire someone depending on your budget.
5.) Choose a reliable web hosting provider
If you want people to visit your website, it needs to be hosted on the internet. A web hosting provider will do this for you. Price, support, storage, and performance are all important features to consider when shopping for hosting services. Hosting services are available in a wide range of prices ranging from a few dollars a month to thousands of dollars.
We’ll give you some tips on how to find the right web hosting provider for your food blog, how to choose the perfect web hosting plan, and the list of important features you should look for when choosing a web hosting provider.
6.) Choose a blogging platform
Choosing a blogging platform that fits your level of expertise is super important. Although there are many blogging platforms to choose from, we highly recommend using WordPress. It is the simplest and most popular way to create your own website or blog.
7.) Select a WordPress theme
Themes provide a unique look and feel to your blog so selecting the right one is very important. There are plenty of WordPress themes that have beautiful modern designs that are also mobile-friendly and have all the necessary features.
In this section, we’ll introduce you to some of the best free and premium food blog themes for WordPress.
8.) Set up Google tools
If you want your blog to show up in Google searches and get organic traffic growth, then you’ll need the following tools:
Google Analytics is Google’s free web analytics service that allows you to analyze in-depth detail about the visitors on your website (what content is working, where your views are coming, which social outlets are getting you the most traction, and so on). It provides valuable insights that can help you choose the best strategy for your business.
Google Search Console is a free service that easily tracks the performance of your website. It helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.
9.) Install essential plugins
To run your blog efficiently and effectively, you’ll need to install essential plugins. These plugins will make your job so much easier. In this section, we’ll introduce you to our favorite plugins for food bloggers.
Step 1 – Pick the right niche for your blog
Deciding on your food blog niche is an important step when starting a food blog. Your niche, simply put, is the subject that’ll be the main focus of your blog. Having a niche will help you build authority as an expert on that topic and will help you grow your audience.
Here is a list of food blog niches to consider :
1. Cuisine Type
Pick a niche for your food blog based on the cuisine type:
- Mexican Food
- Indian Food
- Japanese Food
- Italian food
- Mediterranean food…
2. Dietary requirements
Pick a niche for your food blog based on dietary requirements:
3. Recipe type
Pick a niche for your food blog based on the recipe type:
- Breakfast recipes
- Lunch ideas
3. Certain groups
Pick a niche for your food blog based on certain age groups or other group requirements:
- Kid-friendly recipes
- Senior nutrition
- Recipes for busy moms…
5. Diet plans
Pick a niche for your food blog based on the diet plans:
- Flexitarian diet
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Macrobiotic diet
- Nutritarian diet
- Whole-food plant-based diet
- Paleo recipes…
6. Certain characteristics
Pick a niche for your food blog based on certain characteristics (number of ingredients, level of complexity, cost…)
- Budget-friendly meals
- Freezer-friendly meals
- 8 ingredients or less
- 30 minutes or less
- One-pot recipes…
Most successful blogs combine a few of these niches. For example, Vegan8 creates vegan, gluten-free recipes with 8 ingredients or less, Vegan Richa creates vegan recipes that are inspired by her Indian upbringing, Fresh is real is focused on allergy-friendly baking, Vegan in the Freezer creates vegan recipes that are “freezer-friendly”.
It’s super important that you choose something that you really like and you are passionate about, otherwise, you are never going to stay motivated enough to succeed.
Step 2 – Choose a name for your food blog
Once you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to name your blog. Picking the right name for your blog is very important and can help you stand out from the crowd. Think of a name that is descriptive of what you are trying to communicate with your audience.
Things to consider before naming your blog
- Make sure the name is descriptive of the chosen niche.
- Make sure it’s unique, catchy, and memorable.
- Make sure it’s easy to pronounce.
- Make sure your audience can instantly tell what the blog is about.
- Make sure matching domain name and major social media accounts are available.
Coming up with a unique and memorable blog name
The first step to finding a catchy blog name is to create a list of as many name ideas as you can. Here are a few pointers, ideas, and suggestions that can help you come up with a unique and memorable blog name.
1.) Use blog name generators
Blog name generators are online tools which generate blog name ideas based on the keywords you enter. Here is a list of some of the best blog name generators to help you come up with a catchy and unique blog name:
Simply fill in your niche keywords, hit enter, and then browse through the suggestions of blog names and check domain availability. It’s as simple as that. If nothing else, this can give you a good starting point and nudge you in the right direction.
2.) Use tools like Thesaurus and Wordhippo
3.) Try Name Combiner
Use Name Combiner to find a unique name using a combination of keywords that you choose.
4.) Use your name combined with keywords describing your niche
For example, Vegan Richa uses her first name combined with the keyword vegan. Play around with it and see if anything sparks your interest.
5.) Use a pun to capture the attention of your audience
A pun is a humorous use of a word or phrase that has several meanings or that sounds like another word: – for example, VeguKate (educate), Pick Up Limes (pick up lines), Connoisseurs Veg (tyrannosaurus rex), etc …
6.) Use techniques like rhyming, alliteration, or assonance
Alliteration is when two or more words in a sentence all begin with the same sound. Using alliteration for naming your blog can help make it more memorable and unique. When things start with the same sound or same letter people are more likely to remember them: – for example, Love and Lemons, Budget Bytes, Delicious Days, etc.
Assonance is similar to alliteration, except instead of repeating consonants, you repeat vowel sounds: – for example, Smitten Kitchen.
Alliterations and assonance can inspire you to come up with incredibly catchy blog titles.
Rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words, most often in the final syllables of lines. Rhyming words make great names and are easily remembered.
7.) Use Google’s “related searches” feature
Just search Google for a word or phrase that describes your topic, then scroll to the bottom of the page and Google will show you a list of related searches.
8.) Research other successful food blogs for inspiration
Take some time to check out other food blogs, especially food blogs in your niche, and see what works for them.
Step 3 – Buy a matching domain name
Once you’ve come up with the blog name, the next step is to register the matching domain name. A domain name is what people type into their web browser to find your blog (e.g. rainbowinmykitchen.com).
Choosing the best possible domain name
Choosing the best possible domain name for your website is very important. Here are a few pointers you should consider when choosing a domain name:
1.) Opt for a non-hyphenated domain name
Google prefers non-hyphenated domain names. Using hyphens makes your brand look spammy and this makes users have a negative perception of your brand. Furthermore, hyphenated domains are difficult to remember and the users are likely to forget to use the hyphens when entering your domain name. For example, our domain name is rainbowinmykitchen.com, which is a much better option than rainbow-in-my-kitchen.com.
2.) Choose a .com domain extension
Another thing to consider is buying the .com version of the domain since most people will go there to find you. If you absolutely can’t come up with a URL that’s available as a .com, you could consider another extension, such as .org, .co, or .net.
But, we highly recommend sticking with the .com version for two reasons:
- Most people assume all URLs end in .com
- .com domains tend to show up higher in Google’s search rankings
3.) Run a Domain Name Search
Before you buy a matching domain, you’ll need to check if it is available. To check it, run a Domain Name Search tool. Enter the desired name in the search field and press Search. The Domain Name Search tool will present you with a list of available options that you can register.
Where can you buy a domain name?
To buy a domain name for your website, you will need to register your domain name through a registrar. A domain registrar is a company that allows you to purchase and register domain names.
There are many domain registrars to choose from and some of the most popular include:
Step 4 – Design the logo
Now it’s time to start thinking about logo design. A logo is a graphic symbol that identifies your brand. You will use it anywhere where your business is being represented, e.g., on emails, websites, ads, social channels, business cards. A well-branded logo should provide your audience with some crucial information about your brand.
If you don’t know where to start, start by looking at other blogs in your niche for some logo ideas. And don’t copy, just get inspired. Think of the colors that best represent what you want your brand to be, find some interesting fonts, and decide on a style for your logo. If you know how to do it yourself, that’s great. If not, you can always hire someone to do it for you.
1.) Make your own logo
- Start with writing your blog name with any font in a tool such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or Paint.
- Play around with different fonts, styles (italic, bold, …), and colors. You can find a great selection of free fonts on sites such as Font Squirrel, 1001 fonts, or DaFont.
- If you are familiar with drawing in one of these tools, start playing around with the shapes and lines. If not, you can get graphic elements from sites like Freepik or Icon finder for a small price or even for free (you might be obliged to credit the author though) and customize them to your wishes.
- Play around with graphics and your blog name, arranging them in different ways until you are satisfied with the result.
2.) Use logo design tools
Online logo design tools are an affordable way to create unique logos without the help of a graphic designer.
Here is a list of the top ten logo maker tools to help you create a unique logo for your food blog:
- Wix Logo Maker
- Tailor Brands Logo Maker
- Hatchful by Shopify
- Canva Logo Maker
- Squarespace Logo Maker
- Ucraft Logo Maker
- NameCheap Logo Maker
3.) Crowdsource your logo design
If you don’t have an unlimited budget for designing a logo, you still have lots of options with logo design crowdsourcing services. These sites are actually large online communities of designers. You are coming to them to provide you with a service; in this case, logo design.
You post what it is you need them to do, and they will put together logo designs based on your description. You review the logo samples, provide feedback, and select the one that’s the right fit for you.
Here is the list of the top 4 crowdsourced logo design sites:
4.) Hire a freelance logo designer
You can hire a freelance logo designer expert services and get your logo project done and delivered remotely online. Browse graphic designers by skills, reviews, and price. Select the right freelancer to meet your needs and budget.
Find and hire a freelance graphic designer for your logo design project by visiting these freelance platforms:
Step 5 – Choose a reliable web host provider
Web hosting is an online service that enables you to publish your website on the Internet. When you sign up for a web hosting service, you basically rent some space on a physical server where you can store all the files and data necessary for your website to work properly. Whenever someone types your domain name into the address bar of their browser, your host transfers all the files necessary to serve that request.
Web hosting companies offer different types of hosting plans to their customers. If you are just starting your food blog, a shared hosting plan that comes with enough resources for the blog to work properly will be just perfect for you. When you reach the point where a shared hosting plan can’t keep up with your site, you can always upgrade to VPS (provides you with dedicated resources that you don’t need to share) or dedicated hosting plans (provides a dedicated server with dedicated resources to a single client).
Features to consider before choosing a web host
To find the plan that will best serve your needs, write a list of all the things you expect from the hosting service, and see if those needs are met.
Here is the list of important features you should consider before choosing a web host company and a hosting plan:
- Do they guarantee at least 99% uptime?
- Where are their servers located?
- Do they have free SSL certificates?
- Do they offer support for site migration?
- Does the company offer 24/7 support with trained personnel to assist you?
- Do they provide a free Content Delivery Network (CDN) service to the customers? The CDN is very important because it tremendously speeds up your load time for visitors from different geographical locations.
- Are the daily backups included?
- How much does the plan cost?
- Do you get a free domain name with the plan?
- Do they offer easy 1-click WordPress installation?
- Are the company reviews satisfactory? Check out online reviews and testimonials. These should give you a more accurate idea of the company’s reputation.
- Do they offer a control panel where you can easily manage your website files, email addresses, etc?
- Do they have a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can easily switch if not satisfied?
- Is the security monitoring included?
Best web hosting providers
Here is the list of some of the best web hosting companies:
Step 6 – Choose a blogging platform
A blogging platform is a software that allows you to create, organize, and publish written and visual content online in a form of a blog. You have several different choices for blogging platforms, but we highly recommend WordPress.
WordPress is by far the most popular CMS and is used by 33.5% of all the websites online. It’s easy to use, it’s flexible, and it offers great functionality and reliability. Plus, you can choose from over a thousand free themes from the WordPress Theme Directory or invest in premium, or paid themes. Setting up WordPress is very easy and can be done with just a few clicks.
Alternatives to blogging platforms
Squarespace and Wix.com are popular website builders that can create well-designed websites with blogging capabilities. The main downside to website builders is less ability to customize your site and fewer integrations with other third-party platforms.
Wix is a beginner-friendly website builder, it’s easy to use, and offers tons of creative freedom. You can set it up easily in one afternoon. The main downside to Wix is that you never actually own your site – Wix does. It is subscription-based and starts at $13/mo.
Squarespace is Wix’s main competitor. Use Squarespace if you want professional-looking templates and you don’t mind greater creative challenges than those found on Wix. It is also subscription-based and starts at $12/mo.
Step 7 – Select and install a WordPress theme
What are WordPress themes?
After installing WordPress, it’s time to install a WordPress theme and make your site unique. A WordPress theme will determine the appearance and layout of your website.
Free vs. Premium themes
You can choose from over a thousand free themes from the WordPress theme directory or invest in premium, or paid themes.
The biggest advantage of using free themes is that they are completely free to use (well, obviously). Plus, they usually feature a simple design and fewer customization options, which makes it easier to work with if you’re a beginner. The downside of having a free WordPress theme is a minimal support and problem with regular updates.
On the other hand, premium WordPress themes are cross-browser compatible and up-to-date with the latest WordPress version and they work well with most WordPress plugins you can find online. They usually have a reliable code base and offer support if something goes wrong.
What to look for in a theme?
Picking a good theme is a very important step in your food blogging journey. Your theme plays an important role not just in how your site looks, but also in how well it performs. So, make sure you pick a good one.
Here is a list of 13 features to consider when selecting a WordPress theme:
1.) Is it User-friendly?
Look for a theme that is not so complicated and is easy to navigate. Your visitors are supposed to find the information quickly and easily.
2.) Is it light and fast?
The theme should be light in size and should be perfectly optimized for speed. Site-speed is one of the most important ranking factors. According to a study, visitors leave websites that take more than 3 seconds to load.
3.) Is it fully responsive?
Your website needs to look and work well on all devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones.
4.) Is it mobile-friendly?
You need to check if your theme is mobile friendly. The simplest way to test it is to resize your browser window. As you change its size, the theme layout should automatically adjust to fit the screen width.
Also, you can test it using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
5.) Is it SEO-friendly?
Your theme should be SEO friendly and designed to work with all SEO plugins. A good SEO-optimized theme will help you to rank your posts on Google search results.
6.) Is it easily customizable?
The theme should allow beginners with no technical skills to easily customize the theme. Ideally, you want a theme that allows you to customize the branding, navigation, colors, and typography.
7.) Does it work with common plugins?
One of the main advantages of using WordPress is the number of awesome plugins you can use to add all kinds of functionality to your website. Make sure that your WordPress theme supports all popular plugins.
8.) What about browser compatibility?
Your users will use different browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer), so it’s important that your website looks and functions properly on all of them.
9.) Is it multilingual?
If you are creating a website in a language other than English or you have a plan to create a multilingual WordPress site in the future, make sure that your WordPress theme is translation ready and supports multilingual WordPress plugins.
10.) Does it have good support?
Choose a theme that comes with sufficient support. Go over the forums to look at how quickly the theme developer responds to support requests.
11.) Is it updated on a regular basis?
You’ll want to choose a WordPress theme updated on a regular basis. Check how often the theme developer updates the theme to fix issues or provide support for an upgraded WordPress version. Updates are essential for any program to keep it working well.
12.) Is it well-documented?
Make sure that the theme comes with sufficient documentation about how to install and configure the theme.
13.) What about the ratings and reviews?
When deciding on a theme, make sure to look at its ratings and reviews.
Best places to find WordPress Themes
- WordPress Theme Directory
- WordPress theme shops, such as Themify, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress
- Theme marketplaces (the most popular of which is Themeforest)
Here is a selection of free and premium WordPress themes suitable for a food blog:
- Kale Lite is a clean, elegant, and aesthetically minimal food blog theme.
- Elara is a beautiful, featured packed, and simple blogging theme.
- Foody Lite is the perfect theme for your food blog and it’s easy to install and customize.
- Culinary is beautifully designed and coded, completely responsive. It’s also really easy to set up and use.
- Gump comes with a minimalist and responsive design along with some interesting features like custom colors, social icons, google analytics, and more.
- Soledad is a powerful and flexible WordPress theme that is easy to customize. It supports Woocommerce (WordPress solution for webshops) if you wish to sell your products.
- Cookely is a simple theme with complex features. It provides flexibility for organizing your recipes in a compact, functional, and stylish layout.
- Foodie Pro is a theme with a minimalist style and plenty of color and typography options.
- Gillion is a multi-purpose WordPress theme that is perfectly suitable for all kinds of blogs or online magazines. It offers lots of features to help you build appealing and professional websites.
- EasyMeals is ideal for sharing your latest culinary achievements and recipes with the world.
Step 8 – Set up Google tools
If you want your blog to show up in Google searches and get organic traffic growth, then you’ll need the following tools:
Google Analytics is a great plugin that allows you to track and analyze all of your website traffic. For example, you can see who is visiting your site, how many visitors you’re getting, how they’re getting to your site, how much time they’re spending on your site, where your visitors are coming from, how certain keywords perform. Or you can learn what people are searching for on your site, identify your worst performing pages, and more.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service that easily tracks the performance of your website. It helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.
By having a Google Search Console account, you can get really valuable insights about parts of your website that need more work. This can be a technical part of your website, such as an increasing number of crawl errors that need to be fixed. This can also be giving a specific keyword more attention because the rankings or impressions are decreasing.
Another valuable feature that Google Search Console offers is sending you mail notifications when new errors are noticed. Because of these notifications, you’re quickly aware of issues you need to fix.
Step 9 – Install essential WordPress plugins
Plugins are apps that allow you to add new features and functionality to your WordPress website, whether you need to add contact forms, improve SEO, increase site speed, create an online store, and more. You can easily install them from the admin area of your site.
There are literally thousands of free and paid/premium WordPress plugins to choose from, and choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming. You need to decide which plugins you need for your food blog and whether you want a free or premium/paid version.
The downside to some of the free plugins is that they usually have limited support with no warranties. On the other hand, paid plugins offer premium support for their product. Also, most of the paid plugins are licensed GPL too, which means they also come with a limited warranty.
This doesn’t mean that premium plugins are always a better solution. Many of the most popular WordPress plugins are free. For example, Yoast SEO, WP Super Cache, WPForms, and many more.
Here is the list of the essential plugins to run your food blog efficiently and effectively:
1.) Contact form 7
Contact form 7 helps you to create a number of simple and complex forms on your website so the visitors can easily reach you.
Email marketing and staying in touch with your audience is one of the most important things when running a blog.
With MailPoet you can schedule and send newsletters, collect and manage subscribers, create automatic emails to send new post notifications, send automated welcome emails, add a newsletter subscription form to your website.
MailPoet automatically tracks several metrics for your email campaigns, including opens, clicks, and unsubscribes.
When running a blog, site speed is of crucial importance. Smush will optimize your images and provide you with the smallest image size without the loss of quality.
4.) Page speed plugins
If you want your blog to run smoothly and efficiently, then you’ll need to consider installing page speed plugins. Here, we’re going to introduce you to a few WordPress plugins that will help you speed up and optimize your website:
Autoptimize makes optimizing your site really easy. It can aggregate, minify, and cache scripts and styles.
Speed Booster Pack improves your site speed with caching, optimizing code, removing un-necessary features to give you the best site speed possible.
Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster optimizes your page by enabling you to turn off features that you don’t need on separate sections of the site. For example, you need the contact form only on the Contact us page so with Asset CleanUp you can turn it off on other pages.
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular free caching plugins. It improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing load times.
Although W3 Total Cache does a pretty good job, we recently upgraded to WP Rocket, a premium caching plugin. We have been using it for some time now, and we are very happy with it. It offers all caching and optimization features, plus free support. The yearly subscription starts from $49/yr for a single website.
Yoast helps you optimize your website rank higher on search engines. It enables you to optimize your titles, body text, images, it creates an XML map of your website, meta descriptions, it enables you to see how your site will look in search engine results, etc. There is a free and premium version but for now, we are quite happy with a free one.
6.) Wordfence Security
Wordfence Security protects your blog from attacks and hackers and keeps your website safe. Since WordPress is open-source software and its code is available to everyone, this plugin is a must-have.
7.) Social Warfare
Social Warfare adds social media buttons to your posts making it easy for your visitors to share your content on social media. The free version offers 5 social media buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Mix) and the premium version ($29/yr) gives you access to extra social networks (Reddit, Tumblr, Yummly, WhatsApp, Pocket, Buffer, Hacker News, Flipboard, Email). With the premium version, you’ll also get a “Pin” button over top of every image inside of your content. This makes it easier for your visitors to share your images on Pinterest.
8.) GAinWP Google Analytics Integration for WordPress
The GAinWP Google Analytics Integration for WordPress enables customizable tracking code of all pages on your WordPress site and integrates Google Analytics reports in WordPress’ dashboard.
9.) Broken link checker
Broken Link Checker monitors and tests all internal and external links on your site looking for broken links. It helps you fix bad links to improve SEO and user experience.
10.) Recipe plugins
If you are a food blogger, a good recipe plugin is a must-have. It will ensure that your recipes are nicely formatted, easy to read, and printable. It will also ensure that your recipes are optimized for search engines.
Other useful features to consider include the ability to display nutritional information, add cooking time, and upload videos to your recipes. To find the best recipe plugin for your website, always check the plugin demo to see it in action.
Here is the short overview of the recipe plugin that we use on our blog:
WP Recipe Maker allows you to add recipes using customizable templates and helps you optimize your recipes for search engines. Recipes include useful information, such as preparation and cooking time, ingredients list, number of servings, course, type of cuisine, and more.
Other features include a Pinterest sharing button, comment ratings, printable recipes, template editor, a recipe roundup feature, etc. The paid version offers extra features, including nutrition labels, adjustable servings, ingredient links, premium templates, and so on.
Furthermore, WP Recipe Maker comes with a recipe fallback system. This means that if for some reason, you decide to turn the plugin off, your recipes will not disappear from your site. Instead, they will be fully available, only in a slightly different form.
WP Recipe Maker team offers full support and is always available to answer any question you might have.
This is the plugin that we use and we highly recommend it.
WP Recipe Maker has four different bundles:
- Premium — $49 USD per year
- Pro — $99 USD per year
- Elite — $149 USD per year
While the free version of the plugin is good, paid versions offer more advanced and helpful features.
Some other recipe plugins to consider:
- WP Tasty Recipes – built by owners of the very successful food blog Pinch of Yum
- WP Ultimate Recipe
- Zip Recipes
- Total Recipe Generator
Image credit: @jane_palash